Friday, 11 May 2007

Irriducibili

On the tram up to the Olimpico on Wednesday there was a group of 3 lads aged about 18 or 19, chatting excitedly in thick dialect. They first attracted my attention, frankly, due to the extreme awfulness of the outfits being modelled. Not that I'm going to get all Casuals about things or start banging on about trainers like some kind of Scouser, but sartorially they had done badly. All sorts of bad tracksuit bottoms tucked into socks and the like.

They were discussing possible improvements to the Olimpico and the tallest commented how much he'd love to get to go and tour the changing rooms and backroom areas. 'Oh yeah?' said the blond kid in the full Italy replica tracksuit, trying to achieve nonchalance. 'I did that a few years ago.' His two mates stared at him. 'How?' 'Oh,' he shrugged, 'I got shown round by the Irriducibili.'

Uproar. Macché! sei de' 'a lazio?? [what are you, a lazio fan?] they shouted and leapt on him. A typical teenage male scuffle ensued and your correspondant had to back away to avoid flailing limbs. When calm was restored, they returned to the assault verbally. E allora? Sto storia de' Irriducibili? Blondie raised his arms to fend off any new attack and explained 'My cousin, my cousin on my mum's side. He's in the Irriducibili, I went along with him. It was Lazio-Inter, the game of the lost Scudetto.' Ah yes, that famous occasion in 2002 when Inter just needed to win at Lazio on the last day of the season to win their first scudetto in over a decade... inevitably they lost 4-2 and Juve took the title. So? 'Yeah they just took us in and we went round the dressing rooms and stuff and up into the press boxes and the offices.' 'Did you see in the Roma dressing room?' 'Nah they weren't interested in that were they...' His mates stare at him for a bit. 'That's shit,' said the taller one. 'Yeah what a shit story,' concluded the other, and they both proceeded to whack him affectionately over the head again.

Anyway today by chance I stumbled across a Lazio merchandise shop, 5 minutes from my house. As is well known, former club president Sergio Cragnotti (misguidedly) handed over control of merchandising to the Irriducibili, and they promptly started to make an absolute packet, depriving the club of a major source of income. Claudio Lotito has been wrenching that power -and others - back from the ultras, earning himself a great deal of unpopularity in the process. But the situation of Lazio shops remains... idiosyncratic.

I wandered into the shop, which was empty apart from a solitary chap in his early 30s. Hi, I said vaguely, suddenly wondering what I was doing. He seemed keen to chat. We did the whole 'surely you're not Italian' routine.

Lazio type: Are you interested in football?
Spangles: (caught in quandary) er, yeah, I support, um, Arsenal.
[chat about English football a bit]
LT: So you know about Lazio?
SP: Oh yes, they're famous in the UK for being fascists... for Gazza.
[listen to prolonged encomium of Gazza]
LT: So can I help you? Let me show you what we have in the store. Are you shopping for yourself?
SP: (improvising mendaciously) My boyfriend is a Chelsea fan and I know there's a connection between Chelsea and Lazio fans...
[luckily Chelsea Boy is a long long way away since not only is he not at all my boyfriend but he nurtures a healthy dislike for all things Lazio and despises the dunderhead elements of both supports who have built a friendship based on unpleasant political views]
LT: (enthusiastic and patronising) well done! you're quite right!
[listen to drivel about Chelsea Headhunters]

He shows me his wares: official clothing, replica tops and lots and lots of Irriducibili branded gear of all kinds, much of it featuring their cartoon bowler-hatted hooligan icon, Mr. Enrich. There's a brand new t-shirt proclaiming GRAZIE MANCHESTER with the names of their 7 scorers emblazoned on it and a caricature of a weeping Spalletti, accompanied by the Irriducibili logo. That, I think to myself, is seriously small-time.

SP: Is this all official merchandise?
LT: Yeah, official SS Lazio goods and also official Irriducibili products.

He posits them as perfectly equal. 'Official' ultras merchandise. No wonder other clubs' ultras call them ultra$. I had thought that club merchandising was fully back in its own hands, but clearly not. I make some excuse and leave, promising to return. There are lots more questions I'd like to ask him but all the blue-and-white was making me feel a bit dizzy, and I thought it was time to get out. Discretion is the better part of valour, after all.

12 comments:

De Vertalerin said...

OOOOH!

Fieldwork, eh?

Aussie Romanista said...

shoulda knifed his culo! (scherzo!)

linfieldexile said...

Lol

That made me laugh a lot. You'll not be surprised to hear that certain 'dubious' elements of Linfield's support are big fans of Lazio and the Irriducibili. Good on you for not saying exactly what you wanted to. "Lazio are well known in the UK for..." lol

See you this summer? M x

Anonymous said...

1900 .... 107 years .. that is how long this proud club has been aroud .. but the only focus of any narrow minded uninformed person is the fascist ties of one group of fans ... thats too bad ...
As a matter of fact I am proud of the Irribucibili, they are the ultimate fans .. unwavering in good and bad years ...
Lolito has stood his ground where Cragnotti caved ... I blame that on the old regime ... Irriducibili are a force with Lazio and will always be, their political views reflect an era where Italy showed pride in their heritage under Mussolini .. (And don't give me the Hitler comment) Mussolini did not preach genocide ... I think pride and passion in one's country is a positive thing ... After all right now the world is run by greed and oil ...
Forzalazio ... Semprelazio
Roma Merda ...

Spangly Princess said...

"1900 .... 107 years .. that is how long this proud club has been aroud .. but the only focus of any narrow minded uninformed person is the fascist ties of one group of fans ... thats too bad ..."

Not true. The majority of Laziali aren't fascists - just as the majority of Italians aren't - and many clubs have far right elements among their support. That at Lazio however is larger and is identified with the club as a whole, in no small way due to the power that one particular ultras group has wielded in its realtionship with the club. I know plenty - well, some - normal decent Laziali and have no problem with them or the club itself, outside of normal footballing rivalry, obviously. Plus I have a lot of respect for what Delio Rossi has achieved in his time as manager, Lazio play good football, they were deserving winners in december's derby and though da romanista I can't bear the thought they thoroughly deserve to play in Europe next season.

And yes Cragnotti is substantially to blame for the power the Irr acquired, Lotito is clearly a man of character (even if his involvement in calciopoli renders him not an unproblematic character...)

Ok on your last points: here we are SERIOUSLY going to part company. I very much hope you don't believe that fantastically unhistorical crap you have posted about the Ventennio. If so go away read some actual history and come back when you have something worth listening to.

Chelsea Boy said...

Frankly I'm shocked an appalled at your actions and the slur on my character Spangles. I mean imagine people walking around thinking you were my girlfriend, eh? EH?

But seriously anon, if that is your real name, could you tell your pals at Lazio that we don't like you and don't want to be associated with you, bar about 100 bell ends living in the past. That's why we went to the Olimpico a couple fo years ago and fisted you up the arse with no lube, 4-0

As for the Mussolini apologism, Ye gads man, read a fucking book or something. And no, I don't mean Mein Kampf.

De Vertalerin said...

Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini and Ginsburg's Tutti i nostri ieri would be a good start.

claude said...

Terry 1 - 0 world.

TrentToffee said...

You mean they've stolen our bowler hat ? The Bastards !! Facism is one thing but theft...

TT.


p.s . I'm chuckling like a demented idiot and my colleagues are giving irritated looks.

Anonymous said...

Mussolini supported AS Roma and there have been swastika flags in their matches as well.. so their fans can hardly take a moral high ground on that issue.

Spangly Princess said...

so because there are ignorant vile fascist scumbags in our curva we're not allowed to comment on those in anyone else's? what utter bollocks.

I'm well aware that we were a fascist-sponsored creation and I've said plenty on this blog about the far-right element at Roma over the last year or so, this is the first time I've ever mentioned Lazio at all!

Anonymous said...

ive known the irriducibili and lazio for a while,i love lazio and all they beleive in,ive been to lazio gameas and looking forward to the milano partita e novembre.will be there.jonboy from edinburgh scotland jon reg#1uno